Friday, December 15, 2006

Islam and religious services in Norway

Jonathan Tisdall:

The Progress Party have launched another controversial idea, taking the desire to have better Norwegian skills for imams in Norway and instead proposing that all religious services in the country must be conducted in Norwegian.

Progress Party politician Per-Willy Amundsen emphasizes that though the debate about better integrated imams inspired the idea, the new proposal is for all faiths.

Amundsen is the immigration policy spokesman for what is currently Norway's most popular political party, and leads his party's immigration policy committee.

"We are considering a requirement that religious communities that receive state support conduct their services in Norwegian," Amundsen said. Amundsen admitted that much of the motivation behind the proposal was due to "the attitudes to be found in mosques", but that it should apply to all.

After being asked what would happen to the Swedish Church in Oslo, Amundsen said a possible solution would be to hold services in a language that the majority of the nation understood, so Swedish and English would be acceptable as well.

Amundsen said exceptions could be made when congregations had foreign visitors, and did not see the proposal as coercive, saying that faiths had the option of giving up their state financial support.

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